Washed away

On our first day of vacation at Gulf Shores, we decided to hit the beach, take pictures, and cool off. James is always more adventurous than I am, and he jumped into the water and started swimming out into the ocean past the breakers right away. I timidly stood at the shore and slowly moved further out.

He grabbed my hand and told me to follow him past the breakers into calmer water. I didn’t really want to, but I decided to give it a chance, so I followed him. A few minutes passed, and a gigantic wave crashed into me, submerging me for a moment and knocking my very expensive prescription sunglasses off my head.

“Where are your sunglasses?” James asked, frantically looking around in the water.

“Gone,” I said. “That’s several hundred dollars just gone.”

I headed back to shore.

“Why don’t you stay out here? There’s nothing we can do about it. They’re gone. We’ll just get you some new ones,” he said.

“I know there’s nothing I can do about it, but it makes me sick to lose something so expensive. And I don’t feel like swimming when I’m upset. That’s not fun to me,” exclaimed an emotional, water-logged, pregnant wife.

I headed to the beach and laid on my towel, contemplating how to get a copy of my prescription while two states away and get prescription sunglasses made in a timely fashion. James came to join me and comfort me.

“Babe, really it’s okay. It’s just money. And luckily we can afford to replace them, so we will just do that. Let’s go back and take care of it right now,” he said.

So we did. And of course, it all worked out fine. Sure, we had to alter our plans that day and the following day to accommodate my lack of sunglasses and the time it took to make new ones. But we found other fun things to enjoy and used the time to shop and rest together. Everything was fine.

I’m not sure how James maintains such composure most of the time, or how he can almost always see the horizon in spite of the crashing waves in front of him, but I’m grateful he does.

And I’m grateful I lost my sunglasses that day. Maybe every time I put my new sunglasses on, I’ll remember that things are only as big a deal as I let them be.

Manic migraines

Today is my seventh day in a row with a migraine.

I swear its onset is related to our return from our honeymoon to the beach. About four hours from home, the migraine reared its nasty head. Despite medical treatment and an array of other attempts to decrease its severity, it’s decided to stick around, teasing me with a few hours of relief occasionally.  I’ve suffered from migraines since college, but I’ve never had one last for seven days.

I know it’s hormone-related, and even though I feel terrible, I’m still grateful for the hormones because without them, I wouldn’t be pregnant with our precious child. Still, it’s difficult to maintain a positive outlook and pleasant disposition when my head is pounding and aching incessantly.

A few days ago, while reading my devotional book My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, I came across a paragraph about our moods.

“There are certain things in life that we need not pray about— moods, for instance. We will never get rid of moodiness by praying, but we will by kicking it out of our lives. Moods nearly always are rooted in some physical circumstance, not in our true inner self. It is a continual struggle not to listen to the moods which arise as a result of our physical condition, but we must never submit to them for a second. We have to pick ourselves up by the back of the neck and shake ourselves; then we will find that we can do what we believed we were unable to do. The problem that most of us are cursed with is simply that we won’t. The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh.”  -Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 20

I needed that.

Lying around with a cool rag on my head in a dark, air-conditioned room doesn’t help to improve my migraines, and it certainly doesn’t improve my moods. It doesn’t calm me down; it frustrates me because I lie there thinking of the day wasting away and passing me by. Relaxing? Meditation? Yoga? No, these things do not rid me of my migraines, unfortunately. Do they improve my mood? Try meditating with a real migraine, and you will have the answer :).

So how can I make any changes to my mood if I can’t change my circumstances? If I can’t control or alter my physical condition, and my mood is directly related to my physical condition, how can I improve my mood?

For me, the answer only lies in my relationship with God. I can choose to talk to Him while I’m lying in the cold, dark room and use that time to pray for people who need it most. I can attempt to smile when I’m at work even though I don’t feel like it, sharing a little joy with people who might benefit. I can keep in mind that no one around me causes the pain I’m experiencing, and it’s not fair to take that pain out on them.

And last but not least, I believe it’s important for me to remember to be easy on myself. I don’t have to smile constantly. I don’t have to pretend to feel great when I don’t. And if the laundry sits in a pile for two more days because I’m still suffering from this migraine, life will continue without any major catastrophic consequence.

In the mean time, maybe I’ll start planning our next trip to the beach.